Gardner "Pat" Jackson (1896-1965) was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, son of a wealthy railroad magnate. He came east to attend Amherst College, where he was strongly influenced by the political ideals of the college president, Alexander Meikeljohn. After two and a half years at Amherst he entered the Army, and remained there until the end of World War I. Then he spent a year at Columbia University before coming to Boston with his wife, Dorothy, as a reporter for The Boston Globe.
It was in 1921, while a reporter for The Boston Globe, that Gardner Jackson became involved with the Sacco-Vanzetti case and launched his career in civil rights. Sacco and Vanzetti, two Italian anarchists, were accused of a robbery and murder that had happened a year earlier. Gardner Jackson investigated the supposed evidence against the two men and soon became convinced of their innocence, believing that they were being put on trial for their political beliefs. He finally left The Boston Globe in 1926 to work full time as secretary for the Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee. In 1927, after Sacco and Vanzetti were executed, Gardner Jackson returned to The Boston Globe for a few years, then moved to Washington in 1930 to become a correspondent for several Canadian newspapers.
In 1933 he joined Roosevelt's New Deal administration at the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, helping farmers hurt by the Depression. Due to his uncompromising stances and willingness to push for what he believed in, over the years Gardner Jackson was twice hired and fired by the Agriculture Secretary.
During the 1930s and 1940s, Gardner Jackson worked for the CIO, helping to eliminate Communist influences from the labor movement. In 1944 he was attacked in Greenwich Village and severely beaten, permanently losing the sight in one eye. His anti-Communist labor work appeared to be the motive.
In the late 1940s and 1950s, Gardner Jackson was a freelance writer and labor consultant. In the early 1950s he championed the Bolivian tin miners, helping them work for reforms. He always remained active in the Sacco-Vanzetti case and its aftermath, writing and talking about it, convinced of their innocence.
Gardner Jackson died suddenly on April 17, 1965, at the age of 68, leaving behind his wife, a daughter, and three sons.
Clopton, Willard, "Stormy Career Ends for Gardner Jackson", Washington Post, April 18, 1965.
Wechsler, James A., "The Passionate Spirit of Gardner Jackson". The Boston Globe, April 21, 1965.